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November 05, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, November 05, 2004

County voters reject labor measures County voters reject labor measures (November 05, 2004)

Measures A, B and C all fail

Santa Clara County voters appear to have decided on Tuesday that the salaries of certain county employees should not be determined by binding arbitration, nor should the salaries be compared to other public jobs.

Measure A asked voters to decide whether county employees' salaries should be compared to private or public sector jobs, and whether benefits should be considered.

The existing prevailing-wage rule was entered into the county charter in 1951 and requires the county to pay employees based upon comparisons to similar private sector jobs.

Measure A proposed an amendment to the current rule that restricts comparisons to public employees in Santa Clara and five other Bay Area counties, with health care and other benefits being included in the comparisons.

Supporters of the measure claimed it would create valid compensation comparisons by including benefits in the evaluations. However, opponents said there is a need to compare both public and private salaries because the county competes for employees in both sectors.

Requiring a majority vote, Measure A failed to pass with only 48 percent of support, according to unofficial results.

Measure C proposed allowing the unions representing county district attorneys, public defenders, nurses and correctional officers to use binding arbitration in settling contract disputes, essentially using a third-party negotiator rather than county supervisors to settle any disagreements.

Opponents of the measure, which required a majority vote, said the amendment would cause budget concerns if salaries were raised by the arbitration during the county's record budget shortfall.

Supporters claimed it was a necessary step in retaining quality personnel and that arbitrators would be able to proceed in absolute fairness, as they would have no stake in the outcome of the negotiations.

Voters rejected the measure by nearly 57 percent.

To account for the anticipated budget issues, county supervisors had placed Measure B on the ballot, which would have given voters veto power on any binding arbitration.

The measure failed to pass with only 41 percent of voters' support, although the measure only would have been taken effect if Measure C had passed.

-- Bay City News

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